A full pantry

There’s just something about having a full pantry or a full grainery. It’s a feeling of calm satisfaction, like no matter what happens, everything will be alright. 

I just opened a new bale of hay that is just chock full of leafy green goodness. It smells sweet and the way the animals dig into it, must taste really good too. I also hauled home two loads of grain and my grainery is full. My neighbour has screenings that are a mix of wheat, oats, barley and peas. There’s also canola in there. A really good mix for the chickens. I add corn and layer ration too and for the goats I add sweet feed. He augers it onto the truck and my daughter and I just pail it off into the grainery. I’m good now for the winter with lots of feed for bad weather. We’ve been so lucky with November being so mild. It’s bound to get worse of course but for now everyone is warm, well fed and happy. A mild November just means winter will be a month shorter. Even if spring is cool at least the days will be longer. 

The violas were still blooming in the garden. Such happy tough little flowers. 

I’ve been busy at the rink all week but had time to make carrot cake with those crispy carrots from the garden. I made three and took one to my neighbour, one to a friends, and one for me. This handy little grater is a tool of my mothers that I inherited. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools for slicing and grating. 

I also made a big pan of krautfleckerl. This in Austrian dish of fried cabbage with small pasta added to it. It is just delicious. The cabbage is fried slowly in butter with an onion and turns oh so sweet, lots of black pepper then when it’s golden brown the pasta is added. It’s a strangely satisfying meatless dish that is good for you, inexpensive and very tasty. A perfect dish for those crispy heads of garden cabbage. 

There is a doe and her two fawns that have been spending lots of time down in the valley. They were there again this morning and not really afraid of me when I came out of the house. Can you see them?
And now because it’s a cloudy damp day I have a pot of beans soaking for baked beans. I fried up a box of bacon ends, added three finely chopped garden onions, maple sugar, molasses, tomato paste, chilli powder and mustard. They’ll go into the oven after they’ve plumped up a bit. Nothing like homemade baked beans. There’s rabbit thawing for supper and now maybe an episode or two of Sherlock. These are my favorite things to do on a day off.  😊

Second summer

What a November!! Who could have thought,  that after that snow in early October we’d crack the upper teens in temperature and I could sit outside on my swing and read a book??

It’s been hectic this week to say the least. I first had to make inquiries about my phone but seems that I may be covered, if not for full replacement value, at least a portion of the cost thru a travel insurance policy I have. But I have to provide a DNA sample from the thief, three notarized eye witness accounts of the theft, proof I actually owned the phone and the police report. Well, the last two anyway. Of course they no longer make my model of phone–I purchased it in July of this year–and the replacement cost of the nearest model is north of a thousand dollars. Ouch. 
I’ve been busy digging out the corn stalks. The ground is far from frozen. Had I known that I wouldn’t have bothered digging the carrots and beets before I left. But it looked like winter was here to stay before I left. I washed up a pail of carrots I had in the pump house to put in the fridge. I see a carrot cake or two in my future. 

My fencer has been back and I’ve been running buying more posts and wire and staples. We did a small piece up in the yard then he moved on to the back forty. My property is a triangle shaped piece and one side of the triangle is now complete. Now I have a gate to drive into the meadow. The water table has changed and my other road has been under water the last few years. It will be nice to be able to drive up to the meadow and maybe drive the ponies up there. The second side will be done early next week and the third side may have to wait till spring. But if the weather holds perhaps this fall yet. All I know is that yesterday after digging out a row of corn I thought it is so warm and nice–the corn will be there tomorrow but how often can I sit in the sun in early November and read?  So I did. But today I’m feeling a little puny. I always get sick after a flight. Usually only on the return leg thank goodness. 

The sunrise the other morning was beautiful. Whet a blessing this weather is. Every nice day is one less day of winter. 

It’s just a phone…

So Thursday, my last day in Paris I was having the best day ever. I was thinking how, when you return to a place you love, you have to visit new places to keep it fresh, but you also have to revisit those places that made you love it in the first place. I took the bus down towards  Notre Dame and stopped off at the same grocery store we stopped at in the spring, for a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice. I also picked up a few little crusty buns and a tub of cheese for breakfast by the church. I walked down the same little streets–no one was out but the sun was shining and the sky was blue. I walked around the back of the church. There’s actually a fairly large park out back and I sat in the sun and ate my bread and cheese and drank my orange juice. There were no crowds and apart from one or two other tourists, and the gardener, I had the place to myself. After eating and admiring the delicate flying buttresses, the towers and the large windows I wandered around to the front of the building and went inside. The sun really lit up the stained glass and the interior glowed with color.  I wandered over to the Shakespeare bookshop, an iconic Paris location and turned the corner to see the Odette bakery, another iconic location. We sat literally up the street from it in the spring when we had breakfast in the little park with Paris’ oldest tree. Also just across the street from the Shakespeare book shop. Paris is like that–full of surprises. 

I wanted to go and visit le Grand Epicerie-a huge fancy grocery store. It was almost close  enough to walk to if I cut thru the Luxumberg park. Of course I had to sit and watch the ducks on the pond and look at the flowers.  It was so nice. Then kitty corner thru the park and up a couple of blocks. The grocery was unbelievable. Filled with every kind of gourmet food–a wall of jams, the chocolate section,the cheese and seafood corners. Shelves of breads and baking and charcuterie. In the seafood section people were eating giant bowls of king prawns. Well I wanted some too but I would have had to take out a second mortgage on the house. I did the next best thing. I picked out a package of cooked shelled king prawns and a small tub of house mayo and decided to have a little picnic at the Pere Lachaise cemetary. As I walked out of the grocery right in front was an Orange store. I was out of data so I went in to put another ten euros on my phone. Plenty to last till I left. I hopped the bus to go to the cemetary. And this is where bad things start happening. 

I got to the cemetery and just exited the bus. I heard a woman call out”Madame!!”  I knew she was speaking to me. I turned and said, “quoi ??”  She sort of waved me off and walked around a sign, to hide from the bus. The young guy who had been sitting beside me was at the door just looking out –I  thought it was weird but concentrated on the woman who seemed upset about something. Then she said to me in french, “I’m so sorry, I’m so afraid of him. He’s taken your red mobile, je suis desole …”  And the bus doors closed. I felt my pocket. Empty. Well I tried running after the bus but with my knees I can just barely walk   I realize now the guy was just looking to see if I would challenge him or confront him and he was ready to make a run out the door. But the woman was too late in telling me…I mean it’s that kind of thing where everything that happens is in slow motion and you second guess everything. How did she know it was a red mobile?  Well if she saw him take she would know–she’d also know if she took it and was just trying to redirect me.   So I don’t know what really happened.    I should have zipped my pocket but I didn’t have my phone out and it was a deep pocket. Maybe he just got lucky–went fishing and came up with my phone.  And my credit card. And my bank card. All together in my phone case. But I was only upset about the phone–losing my contacts and photos. The cards could be cancelled and replaced. So I went to the gendarmerie and filed a report. It was such a comedy. The young cop filled out his uniform really well but not much between the ears.  He kept telling me I needed to call to cancel my cards and I kept telling him I had no phone. Exasperated, I asked if I could use the phone on his desk. Oh no. Not allowed. Finally out of there,  I had to take the bus back to my hotel. I was still pretty shaken and I didn’t really want to get on the bus. Once on I was hyper vigilant,  watching everyone, and angry that this guy was making feel so suspicious.  Then an older gentleman approached me and asked in English if that was a poppy I was wearing. I said yes and he reached out to shake my hand.  See it’s the little things like that, that restore my faith in people. The regular Parisians are such nice people, helpful and friendly. 

But this did not erase the fact that I now had only 70E to last till I left. Once back at my hotel the manager helped me to call Mastercard to cancel my card.  Of course none of the numbers we pulled up online worked. The Canadian numbers didn’t work and the French one left us on hold for half an hour. We tried different prefix variations  for the Canadian numbers and finally one seemed to work. I had called my sister and asked her to go down to the bank to try to cancel them that way. But just as she called back from the bank I reached an operator in the states.  The card hadn’t been used so before I cancelled it I managed to pay the hotel bill. But there’s nothing like having no money to focus the mind. I had pre purchased my bus ticket to the airport but that was also tucked into my phone case. So I had to buy another. I didn’t want to spend money on a final supper–what if I needed a cab in the morning or just money for some emergency?  I still had my shrimp. So not the picnic in the park I had thought. 

All I can is thank goodness this happened on my last day, and not the first. I had no problems getting to the airport and then home.  I had no money to pay for parking but they let me go, just taking my email. I had thought I would stay in Edmonton that night but of course I had no cards so I just started driving home. I made it to Wainwright before I decided I needed to sleep. I pulled into a Tim Hortons and crawled into the back of the car and slept for a couple hours before driving the rest of the way home. 

Not exactly the end of the trip I wanted but it could have been so much worse. 

What a day

I’m exhausted. And hungry. I wasn’t hungry at all till someone started cooking something with garlic. I can smell it in my hotel room. The window is wide open. But I’m in bed already. Drinking a tea. I won’t go out again. I’ll just have to have something yummy for breakfast. 

This morning I headed out to a little shop over by Les Halles called G. Detou. A play on words…j’ai de tous–I have everything!! On the way I stopped for a delicious coffee at…McDonalds!! And it really was good. And cheap. I chose coffee here cause there’s nothing but tourist shops around–doubtless I’d pay three times as much for a coffee not half as good. I sat outside on the patio to drink it. A homeless guy came up and asked me to buy him a coffee so I did. 2E for coffee. That gave him a little change. Maybe he had enough to get breakfast too. Everyone likes their coffee. 

M. G Detou was not to far away. What a shop!! Full of all kinds of foodie treasures. Pots of mustard, and tins of sardines, looking for all the world like little jewel boxes. I got myself some essence of violets, cassis, lavender, and fraises. Some powdered vanilla beans. Some sugared violets ( I had violets on my mind) and a pot of mustard with gingerbread spices. Why not?? My bag already weighs a ton. I took pictures inside the store. It was heaven in a tiny cramped little spot. I could have poked about all morning but I knew I would just buy more so I left. I’ll be back. 

I walked down to the Seine and across one of the bridges. Not sure which one. Anyway, in the info my sis send me yesterday I came across a sewer museum tour. You don’t do that every day. I found the booth but I was a little leery. I just sat and observed for a few minutes. When I saw another couple buy tickets I decided to be a brave little toaster and go on the tour too. It was fascinating. But the best part was over a waste water outflow and even though there was a school tour down there and several tour guides who seemed to spend a lot of time in the sewer, you know, I just couldn’t do it. I sped thru that section–I spent too much time listening to our guys talking about aerosolized waste and I beat a hasty retreat. I had just seen a tv program on the sewer system in Rome–that one was 2000 years old, or more, and it was just so interesting. I wish the info boards were in a “cleaner” place so I could have read them more thoroughly. They had a souvenir booth down there too–selling sewer rats!! I’m sorry I didn’t buy one 😊

I kept walking after that, all the way past les Invalides to the Rodin museum. One of my favourite museums. I didn’t want to go inside, it was actually a nice day, so I just chose the gardens. Many sculptures are displayed in the gardens. My favourite is the Burghers of Calais. I saw this sculpture the first time in London and never forgot it. It made such an impression on me. Rodin sculpted the six Burghers (councillors) in a group, but they are placed so that you must walk around them in order to see them all. They had been given the choice to sacrifice themselves to protect the inhabitants of their city and surrendered to the English king. The anguish and sorrow in their postures and on their faces is what I remember from London. These bronzes are allowed to have 12 copies made and there are twelve of this particular statue in various locations around the world. Life size and eye level, you really feel the sacrifice they are making. They don’t know it, in this scene, but the English king does spare their lives at the request of the queen. And many of the garden statues are studies of figures that went into the Gates of Hell from Dantes Inferno that Rodin made. Really quite terrifying. Hard to see it properly in this little photo. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!!
I was starting to get hungry now. But there was a real absence of any eating establishments so I just picked up a sandwich and a drink to eat in the Tuileries garden. Then I passed a bakery and picked up three macarons. I want to see what all the fuss is about. I had my sandwich and shared the crust with this clever raven. I tossed him pieces and he snatched them out if the air. I realized I was very close to Angelina’s, the famous spot for hot chocolate, so I saved my macarons. I was getting chilled and a pot of luscious thick hot chocolate would hit the spot. I was welcomed and seated immediately by the most pleasant young lady, given a menu by a handsome waiter and not made to feel like a horrible tourist at all. I chose the pot of chocolate a l’african, their classic chocolate. It was decadent–thick like melted chocolate but drinkable, just. A serving of extra thick whipped cream on the side, and a carafe of water. Delicious!! The place started really hopping just after I got there and it was nice to sit in the warm and people watch. I was completely refreshed afterward and ready to carry on site seeing. 
I hoped on the bus–I so much prefer the bus to the metro–you can see where you are going–and headed over to the big department stores. My sister wanted a perfume and I wanted to go up on top of the other store for the view. There were not as many people in the stores as last spring. It was easy to get around and I found the perfume counter tight away. The same girl helped me who helped me last spring–she’s such a sweet heart. She put a lot of goodies in the bag ( but not as many as last time). The Christmas display was up in the centre of the hall. Then off to le Printemps to go up to their observation deck. Wow!! The sun was just setting and Montmartre was aglow. It was beautiful. The Eiffel Tower was silhouetted nicely too. Then back down–I had one more look to see where the airport bus was. I bought my ticket for Friday this morning and it looks really simple. I just don’t want to be looking for the right spot while I’m dragging my bag around. Then onto the bus for a leisurely ride back to my hotel. Rush hour so traffic was heavy but I didn’t mind the ride. The bus was empty and I had a good view of the outside. I stopped for a glass of red wine at my little cafe. I just wanted to see if I was hungry. Nope. That hot chocolate filled me up. I sat and wrote my blog then headed back to the hotel where I was assailed by that delicious smell of garlic. I had a cup of tea and ate my macarons. They were actually much better that I thought they would be. The green was pistachio. I’m not sure what the fuss is about pistachio. Is that even a flavour ??  My first bite and I thought, yes, there’s something nutty there…. then I realized what I was tasted was the almonds in the shell of the macaron. The yellow one was caramel and this one was really the best. Really good caramel flavour. The last one was raspberry. I couldn’t taste raspberry at all. Boo. But I’m going to try some more tomorrow. The pastry shells had a really nice texture, crispy outside and gooey inside. Just like they are supposed to. And now to bed. Off to Pere Lachaise tomorrow and perhaps le Bon Marche food hall. 

Last day in Normandy.

I’m so sad. I loved driving my car. The freedom I had to come and go and to and fro. Just loved it. And it was a slightly bigger vehicle, up a little higher so I wasn’t afraid to drive over curbs etc. It had a really cool key and push button start. And when idling the engine would cut out. When you took your foot off the brake it would start up again. 
My bed and breakfast was in an old old farm house. The Madame said they could trace it back to the 15th century and that it was probably older. The view out my window. This was an old wooden bread oven. My room was up stairs over the dining room which was the old stable. Look how thick the walls are!! They must have their own pressure system for the water because the shower pressure was excellent. And the windows opened–sleeping was great. The second night we did a table d’hôte where Madame cooked supper for us. The appetizer was Camembert with mushrooms and boudin blanc in phyllo pastry. Just delish. Then she served one of those scrawny chickens I’d seen in the market, and yes, very flavourful. With potato pancakes. Then as we were in Camembert country we had a Camembert then an apple tart for dessert. Monsieur made his own cider, pommeau and Calvados which we enjoyed with the meal. Nasty wasteful Canadian that I am, I got sent upstairs to turn out the lights I left on in my room. Breakfast each morning was baguettes with homemade preserves. Madame’s confiture aux prunes (yellow plums) was just excellent. She made an apple cake the first morning, crepes the second, and a chocolate cake the third. Yogurt, and Camembert and cereals too. The coffee was crap but everything else was excellent. There were six of us for supper and I quite enjoyed listening to the conversations. One of the Monsieur’s was walking. He had done 32 kilometres that day and the next he was going to do 25. No where special, he just wanted to walk. The last day I had to leave early as I had to be in Rouen for 10:30. It was foggy in places but a really nice drive. Part of it was autoroute and I just loved going thru the toll booths. Not because I liked to pay but because I had been terrified of them before I started, and having gone thru a few times, I mastered it quickly. In Rouen I followed the directions I had been given when I picked up the car, parked it in one of their special spots, gave it the once over so I didn’t forget anything, then headed inside. I was momentarily pissed when I saw the office was closed till 2:00 but then I saw the key drop slot. Blam–done!! I went to buy a train ticket and the next train was only 45 minutes later. Excellent. I got on and didn’t want to fight with my bag. I got a seat right by the door. There was a young man sitting opposite me and we got to talking. He wanted to practise his English as he was an engineering student and he had a big test in conversational English. He did pretty good. Then it was time to eat our sandwiches and just like that we were in Paris. I had no problems finding my hotel but humping that damn bag up and down stairs got old really quick. Good news is, I can get to the airport bus Friday morning on the regular bus and no stairs. Whoo hoo!!

Checked into the hotel and was on the second floor–no lift. But Monsieur carried my bag up for me. The room is small, no tv, but clean. I checked for bugs 😜😜. All good. Then I went out for an explore. I was really tired and ate early at my favourite little cafe on the corner. Osso bucco. It was very good. Bed early. So many things to do tomorrow. Sissy sent me all kinds of info so I sort of have a game plan. We’ll see how it works out.